Become a Dog Groomer:
Tips to Get You Started
in Your New Career

So, you want to become a dog groomer? That's great! A career as a dog groomer means that you get to spend your days styling and primping just about every size and shape of fur-covered pooch.

dog groomer

But, beyond that, careers with dogs are a smart choice – in any economy. The pet care industry is a $43 billion per year industry.

For most of us, our pets are important members of our family, and we are willing to spend a lot of money to make sure they receive the best care possible -- from treating them with alternative healing methods such as

Reiki for dogs and canine homeopathy to buying them the best dog toys .

Depending on your personality and career goals, there are more than likely several dog jobs you could consider, from pet sitter and doggy day care to pet masseuse and more.

Many people who are looking for a pet career that also lets them exhibit their artistic side choose to become a dog groomer.

Career Choices for Dog Groomers Include:

  • Working in someone else’s pet grooming salon
  • Working in a veterinarian’s office
  • Working in a doggy day care or boarding kennel
  • Working in the salon section of a retail pet store
  • Setting up your own grooming shop
  • Opening a mobile pet grooming business

But no matter which professional route you choose, the most important part to become a dog groomer is how you will get your training. This will set you up for everything else you will do in the course of your career.

Unlike “human groomers” (i.e. – hair stylists!), pet groomers are currently not required by any state to have a vocational license in order to practice. No certification is required, either. If you ever choose to open a pet grooming shop, your state might require that you obtain a license from the Department of Agriculture (and, of course, a business license). Of course, if you plan to open your own pet grooming business, you will want to check with your state and local government as to which licenses and permits are required in your area.

Training Options to Become a Dog Groomer

Vocational schools
A well-regarded vocational school provides the benefit of on-site, hands-on training and feedback from live instructors. This interactive environment is a great way to learn to become a dog groomer. However, there are many things to consider before deciding which school is right for you.

Most states require pet grooming schools to be licensed by the state as vocational schools. Before you choose to enroll in a school, do your homework. Ask to see proof of licensing from the school, or contact the proper government bureau (start with the Department of Education) to check on the school’s licensing status. Of course, you only want to attend a school that is approved and licensed as a vocational provider of pet grooming training.

It is also a good idea to contact the Better Business Bureau, to make sure the school you are considering does not have any complaints registered against them. It’s better to find out these things in advance than after you’ve already paid your tuition.

dog groomer

Treat your search for a pet grooming school just as diligently as you would if you were enrolling in a college or university. Grooming school programs differ widely in both quality and content, and it is up to you to choose a school that will best help you to reach your career goals.

Begin by visiting the school and telling them that you are considering enrolling in their school and that you would like to come in and observe classes for a day. This will give you a good idea of their teaching style and the types of grooming techniques you will learn. (Some states require that you take a tour of the facility prior to enrolling, so check with your state on this1).

Observing a class will also enable you to speak with current students, which is an excellent way to get their “insider opinions” as to the pros and cons of that particular school.

You might also want to ask for a couple of graduates that you can call. This will give you the opportunity to see what former students have been able to achieve with their educations and how far they have been able to develop their careers. You can also find out what kind of job assistance, if any, the school offers its graduates.

Bear in mind that since not every state has a grooming school, you might need to travel in order to attend the best school for your career goals. This should certainly not stop you from pursuing a career in pet grooming if you are truly interested.

Home study courses
If you are unable to attend a vocational school to become a dog groomer, then you will want to seek out the best possible home study course you can find. Just as with vocational schools, the content and quality of home study courses will vary widely, so do your homework.

The first thing you will want to check is to make sure that the home study program is licensed by its state’s Department of Education. You will be working with precious, living creatures (people’s babies!), and you want to make sure that you have the proper education and credibility. Getting a “certificate” from an online school that is not licensed is certainly not the same as getting one from a school recognized and licensed as a vocational school by its state’s Department of Education.

Before deciding on a home study program, you will also want to thoroughly check the credentials of the person who created the program. Some important considerations are:

  • What is course creator’s level of certification? Is he/she a certified master groomer?
  • Do they own their own successful pet grooming shop?
  • Do they also run a licensed, on-site vocational school?
  • How many years have they been in the business?

Another very important consideration when taking a home study course to become a dog groomer is to determine the level of instructor interactivity and feedback. Is this a course where you just receive materials and you’re on your own, or is it an interactive study program where you will have your own instructor and be responsible for homework and exams? After all, how can you expect to become a dog groomer without real, hands-on experience?

Although legally, vocational training is not required to become a dog groomer, anybody who is serious about forging a successful career will take the time to become properly trained, whether at a licensed vocational institution or through a licensed, hands-on distance learning course.

Dog Groomer Certification

Even though there are no mandatory certifications for dog groomers, by becoming certified you are adding to your credibility and distinguishing yourself from other groomers. Certification allows you the bragging rights to say, “I have the skills and formal education to be recognized as a top professional in my industry”. Some groomers even go on to become certified as “master groomers”.

Check out our “additional resources”, listed below, and be sure to do your homework before choosing your training to become a dog groomer. Once you have put in the time and effort necessary to learn your craft, you will be well on your way to an exciting new career.

Additional Resources:
National Dog Groomers Association of America (certification, seminars and other information) (comprehensive site about starting a dog grooming career, including a list of vocational schools and home study programs)

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